Sixer’s Sevens: SAFC 2 Blackburn 1 – winning start to new era

This is where Pete Sixsmith captures the glory and shame, hope and despair, excitement and ennui of the Sunderland matchday experience. When, rarely, Pete is absent or delayed, a supersub does it for him and the seven-word verdict is preceded by an asterisk. Pete’s full analysis of the game will usually appear within a day or two.

Martin O’Neill was in charge of SAFC for the first time today as we took on Blackburn Rovers in what our rotten run had turned into a relegation six-pointer.

The outcome, of course, was ultimately as magical at it needed to be with tough games in London coming up next.

But MON he soon enough saw the scale of the challenge he’s accepted, a first half summed in Pete’s text from the East Stand “awful even by our usual dismal standards”, a disturbing seven-word verdict on how things then stood. One down thanks to 1) O’Shea’s weak pass playing Larsson into trouble, 2) Larsson’s poor control of the pass and subsequent lunge conceding a moderately dangerous free kick, 3) our utter inability to defend set pieces handing Rovers a goal on a plate. Then MoN suffered from his predecessor’s decision to tackle the need to score in the Premier with one on-loan striker and a couple of promising kids.

It was much, much better in the second half and James McClean’s introduction injected real hope; this is a man whose pace and skill can enable him to make a mark at the top level. Vaughan’s equaliser – NB VAUGHAN’s; whoever wrote Gardner’s will be boiled in oil – was a belter and a beauty: Larsson made up for last week’s events at Wolves with a superb free kick to win the game We needed a win today. Finally, thanks to a dramatic improvement after the break, we got one.

There may be a delay in posting Martin’s Musings.

The full Sixer’s Sevens archive – see link below – sums up what all Sunderland supporters feel, from darkest gloom to sublime elation, in the words one who is usually there …

Dec 11 2011 SAFC (0) 2 Blackburn Rovers (1) 1 Sheer perseverance gives MON vital winning start

Dec 4 2011 Wolverhampton Wanderers (0) 2 SAFC (0) 1 More points sacrificed through weak, sloppy defending

Nov 26 2011 SAFC (1) 1 Wigan Athletic (1) 2 *Bruce’s reign surely over after this debacle. That was M Salut’s verdict, followed by these from Mr Sixsmith: “Shambolic defending spells end for Bruce now”, “He must go after another clueless performance”, “Got what we deserved after brainless display”, “Pressed the self destruct button yet again”, “Second half shocker means Bruce’s time’s up” and finally “Print them all”.

Nov 19 2011 SAFC (0) 0 Fulham (0) 0 Truly appalling game lacking pace, creativity, threat

Nov 5 2011 Manchester United (1) 1 SAFC (0) 0 Decent performance but slipshod defending cost us

Oct 29 2011 SAFC 2 (1) Aston Villa 2 (1) … Determination and effort produced a fair result

To see Sixer’s Sevens in full, click here. If an asterisk precedes the comment, the words that follow are the work of someone else because Pete is for once absent from the game or his verdict has been delayed …

14 thoughts on “Sixer’s Sevens: SAFC 2 Blackburn 1 – winning start to new era”

  1. On the blackcats list we put together a map of the “Mackem Diaspora” possibly a year or so ago. Reading your posting Robin, I was wondering just where and how far spread our fans were when we found out that we’d won.

    The spirit of Sunderland is by no means confined to the four stands, that’s for sure.

  2. We were losing as I boarded a plane to Atlanta with 10 minutes left. When I arrived we had won. Now that is magic in my mind.

    I’ve not seen the game, yet but it’s recorded so I will watch it tonight. Bruce’s response to losing was to do the same thing as last time, pick the same players and make the same mistakes in terms of substitutions etc. The best definition of stupidity I ever heard was to do the same thing over and over again and wonder why the results remain the same.

    O’Neill immediately resorted to shaking things up and providing something unexpected. Well done Martin. The greatest of starts.

    • I also was boarding something, a ferry from Singapore to Batam, Indonesia and we were losing. My workmate & travel companion cajoling as he is an Arsenal fan.

      I only said, “I think I will win the Mug, as I took 1-1 (all other likely winning combinations having been taken). It was almost 24 hours after the final whistle when (to my delight, I did NOT win the mug as we eventually won).

      Just praying this is the start of something better, the last 12 months have bben dire.

      No need to keep watching the Chelsea Sunderland game over and over anymore, I hope! (Can’t wait to get home and see what happened in full).

  3. Thanks to Andy Nichol for pointing out the error on our first scorer: David Vaughan, of course, not Craig Gardner. And thanks, too, to Tony: the mug can go to Croxdale!

  4. To be fair to Bruce, he signed McClean. He has been on the bench and must have been near the first team before Bruce was dumped. Regular Reserve Watchers inc. have enjoyed his performances and have seen him improve game by game. Let’s give credit where credit is due, Comrades.

  5. As Bill says, this is a man who cares. In the second half we began to show some passion and O’Neill’s animated presence made for a very different mood to that of past months. McClean was very impressive. Hope Noble gets a game soon and that Martin can buy a good striker in January. All in all, although there are obviously problems to be ironed out, this was encouraging.

    I now look forward to the post match interview on MOTD in the expectation of a lucid and dignified analysis of the game. Happy days !

  6. As one of my old bosses often used to say, you make your own luck.
    In a way, I’m almost glad we were shaky in the first half. It shows that the squad still has what it takes to regroup and fight back. An easy game would not have had the same confidence-building effect.

  7. Overall, I thought we deserved the win even if we did ride our luck and get the rub of the green on a couple of occasions.

    Well done MON for introducing a bit of self belief, still lots to do but a better start than our first half performance indicated, two good goals and some good performances from the youngins.

    Didn’t win the mug but a small price to pay for three points and saving M Salut a significant postage bill.

  8. Wow what a come back.Martin O Neill cajoled and switched his team around, never letting up trying to get back into the game.We got a bit of luck on a couple of decisions but fortune favours the brave.
    Two superb goals and my day is made up,couldnt have been a better finish.
    Though Id love to see the look on the faces of those around me walking out at 0-1 down….numpties.

    And Brucie must be ringing Eric Black tonite to ask if he remember signing a young man called Mclean.

    May MON reign be long and illustrious.

  9. Finally; decent performance produces a canny result.

    I am chuffed to cautiously optimistic bits.

    Where has McClean been hiding? He was fab.

    Disappointed by half-time booing, though. Too soon.

  10. O, ye of little faith, Colin! (re your half-time remark in the previous post.) This is the team I remember — fighters! I didn’t win the Salut! Sunderland mug but I have a big smile on my face.

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